WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- An initial review of the rewrite of
the proposed management policies for the National Park Service (NPS) is
getting an emphatic "thumbs down" from the 440-member Coalition of National
Park Service Retirees (CNPSR), who represent nearly 13,000 years of National
Park Service management.
CNPSR Spokesperson Bill Wade, the former superintendent of Shenandoah
National Park, said:
"We had high hopes that the National Park Service would heed the virtually
unanimous rejection of the initial draft of the NPS rulebook proposed by
political appointee Paul Hoffman, the former Chamber of Commerce official from
Cody, Wyoming. Instead of moving away from the Hoffman approach, the
political appointees at the Interior Department came back on October 17th with
what amounts to 'Hoffman lite.' Unfortunately, a little bit of Mr. Hoffman's
attack on our national parks goes a long way -- in fact, far too long a way
for those of us who make it our priority to protect America's national parks
for future generations.
Not only has no compelling case been presented for rewriting the 2001 NPS
management policies, but we are seeing what we believe is most likely a false
claim that the revised draft represents the views of 'more than 100 key NPS
professional staff.' We challenge the Interior Department to name these 100
of our former colleagues who would embrace this only somewhat watered down
version of Mr. Hoffman's deadly prescription for national parks. We simply do
not believe that 100 key/non-political NPS officials -- that is career people
such as ourselves -- actually signed off on this document. If they did, we
would be delighted to be corrected. We look forward to seeing the list to
which the Interior Department and NPS Director Mainella keeps referring in
defending this rewrite.
Our initial analysis of the proposed revisions to the NPS management
policies leads to the conclusion that these revised policies are fatally
flawed at its foundations. Coalition Member Bill Brown, former NPS Historian
and author of Islands of Hope characterized the new version this way:
'Tectonic shifts away from traditional philosophy and the intents of governing
statutes are the general and pervasive hallmarks of these revised policies.
To polish the apple when it is rotten at the core is a waste of time.'
What are some of specific concerns? Consider the gutting of Section 1.4.3
of Chapter 1 -- The Foundation -- of the legitimate 2001 NPS Management
Policies. The attack on this Foundation renders the entire rewrite document
structurally unsound. This Section, in the legitimate 2001 Management
Policies summarizes the statutory evolution of the Organic Act that created
the National Park Service in 1916. It is the distilled essence of the
mandates of the Congress in the light of experience and changing times. Those
mandates are explicit in resolving the age-old question of priorities:
preservation and use. In order to preserve these crown jewels for future
generations of Americans, the 2001 rules put preservation first, because the
integrity of the National Park System itself -- the protected landscapes and
cultural artifacts -- is the basis for the derivation of values which we
celebrate in these sacred places. These principles are set forth as statutory
language and declarations of the Congress.
But these critical words and declarations are diluted or dropped from the
pages of the revised policies. The recasting of Section 1.4.3 results in
'fuzzing up' and confusing the clarifications of the Congress in the 1970
General Authorities Act and the 1978 Redwood amendment. Replacing the
language of the Congress is interpretation and argumentation designed to fit a
politically dictated agenda. These arguments, among other things, equate
preservation and enjoyment, in direct contradiction to the law on the books
that puts preservation in a first and logical order. This regressive shift is
intended to open the way for more mechanized 'enjoyment' -- so called! -- and
additional commercialization of the parks.
Moreover, throughout Chapter I, The Foundation, as restated in the
proposed rewrite, there is departure from the straightforward mandates of the
2001 Management Policies. This straying from the straight and narrow is a
reflection of the jerry-rigged nature of the revised policies. They are not
the product of organic growth, considered thought, and real participation by
agency professionals. Nor are they grounded on the true foundation of law and
intent of the Congress. Rather they reflect a rush job by a political
functionary whose objectives are political: to open the parks to
commercialization and mechanical intrusions inimical to the dignity and
preservation of the national parks of the United States of America.
We believe that if many career NPS employees were completely free from
political pressure and possible retribution they would more readily admit that
they share our deep concerns about parts of the newest revision. In what seems
like obviously convenient timing, mid- and upper-level managers will now be
more reluctant to be forthright in their comments on the policies as a result
of a directive released just over a week ago by NPS Director Fran Mainella.
This directive requires validation that candidates for various mid- and
upper-level positions in the NPS demonstrate support for Secretary Norton's 4
- C's ('communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of
conservation') policy and for the President's Management Agenda. Taking
anything but supportive positions on the current version of the management
policies could be used against them as evidence of non-support.
We commend our colleagues who are still working for the NPS who have been
engaged in a less than successful attempt to turn a proposed draft of the
policies initiated by Hoffman into something that could withstand serious
scrutiny in terms of minimizing harmful impacts on the national park system.
But the current version is still, in many places, the Hoffman version dressed
in a ranger uniform, and is still not good for the parks. The fatally flawed
Foundation Chapter renders the proposed revised policies, to coin a phrase,
Wade said that the Coalition will continue to review the details of the
entire proposed revision of the NPS management policies, and will be posting
details of this review, as they are developed, on its website:
The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
(http://www.npsretirees.org) is made up of former employees of the National
Park Service (NPS), numbering 440 and with more joining each day. Many members
were senior leaders of NPS and many of received awards for stewardship of our
country's natural and cultural resources. In their personal lives, CNPSR
members come from the broad spectrum of political affiliations. As park
managers, rangers and employees in other disciplines, they devoted their
professional lives to maintaining and protecting our national parks for the
benefit of all Americans -- both living and those yet to be born. CNPSR
members have served this country well, and their credibility and integrity in
speaking out on these issues should not go ignored.
SOURCE Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, Washington, D.C.